“I Think the Gun’s in His Back Pocket”: Portland Police Bureau Releases Audio From Fatal Shooting of Robert Delgado in Lents Park

Police say Delgado had a replica handgun.

A memorial to Robert Delgado in Lents Park.
Delgado Memorial A memorial to Robert Delgado in Lents Park. (Wesley Lapointe) (Wesley Lapointe)

The Portland Police Bureau on Monday released an abridged version of police radio transmissions leading up to the April 16 fatal shooting of Robert Delgado by Officer Zachary DeLong. Police say their response was prompted by at least one 911 call that allegedly reported Delgado was pointing a gun—which police now say was a replica—in Lents Park.

The recordings display a swift escalation: Police say officers were dispatched at 9:28 am, arrived at the park at 9:36 am, and shot Delgado at 9:40 am.

The 18-minute recording doesn’t include audio from the actual 911 caller. It is unclear whether the responding officer who describes the circumstances over the radio is DeLong, whom the bureau identified as the officer who shot and killed Delgado.

The recording begins as the Bureau of Emergency Communications dispatcher relays a description of Delgado from the 911 caller.

“Subject at the 92 and Holgate side of the batting cage fence with a handgun in hand,” the dispatcher says. “White male, 30s, red T-shirt, black pants. He’s not doing anything with the gun. It’s just in his hand.”

A few minutes later in the recording, a male police officer says he called the 911 caller, who allegedly said Delgado was acting like “James Bond” but not pointing the gun at anybody.

“I called the caller,” the officer says. “This guy is wearing a red shirt and black pants, like in the call. Apparently, he’s acting like James Bond or like a cowboy doing like quick-draws with it. He’s not pointing it at anybody.”

Minutes later, the same officer says over the radio that he has eyes on Delgado.

“He’s not wearing a shirt now—just black pants,” the officer says. “He’s on the eastern side of the park right by the parking lot. I think his hands are empty right now. We’re just gonna pull into the parking lot and address him from a distance.”

About a minute later, the officer says the situation has escalated.

“He’s not compliant. He’s flipping us off. [Inaudible] from the parking lot are saying he has a gun,” the officer says. Another officer chimes in that he has pulled in for backup.

Seconds later, the first officer says Delgado is now “very noncompliant.”

“I think the gun’s in his back pocket,” he says.

Nine minutes into the call, the officer asks for more backup. Another person requests over the radio to “stage medical” for the incident.

Seconds later, another person says, “One shot fired.”

“Shots fired. Suspect down,” the first officer says seconds later. “I can’t see him. [Inaudible], you have the best eyes.”

The Police Bureau says DeLong, a U.S. Army veteran and former sniper, shot Delgado from 90 feet away. Police say that after the shooting, they located a black replica handgun with an orange tip, apparently manufactured by Crosman Corp., according to a photo police shared of the replica handgun.

Another officer says over the radio that Delgado is down behind the trees. Someone else says Delgado is moving his right arm. Another suggests approaching with a shield and a car.

According to the Police Bureau, officers began performing CPR on Delgado at 9:48 am. Medical personnel took over at 9:53, the bureau said. Delgado was pronounced dead at the scene, and a medical examiner later determined he died from a single gunshot wound.

It is unclear how many 911 calls BOEC received Friday morning leading up to the death of Delgado. BOEC spokesman Dan Douthit said the agency is currently researching to determine the amount.

PPB Deputy Chief Chief Chris Davis issued a statement Monday asking for patience as the bureau works through its investigation.

“The Portland Police Bureau is committed to sharing as much information as we can about critical incidents, while balancing the need to maintain the integrity of the investigation so we can all have confidence in the outcome,” Davis said. “When police officers use deadly force, it impacts not only the people directly involved in the event, but families, neighborhoods, and the community as a whole. We ask for continued patience as we work through the complex process of investigation and administrative review in this case, and we will share information as we can.”

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